Interview with Eric Jain, Founder of Zenobase

The holy grail of the quantified self movement is to find a service which allows you to collate all your information into one place.

After all, what point is tracking data if you cannot map it against other data points, discover interesting correlations and possibly even causations.

There are a few services now appearing that are trying to solve this problem. One of which is Zenobase. We caught up with the founder, Eric Jain, to find out more.

PH: Hi Eric, could you please explain what Zenobase is?

EJ: Zenobase lets people aggregate data from popular self-tracking
services, or record their own data, and then use that data to answer

Because our bodies and lives are complicated, and the data always
lacks important context, even simple questions like “do I need more
sleep after getting a lot of exercise” can’t be answered without a lot
of user interaction. Zenobase supports this process by making it easy
to slice and dice such data, and see when changes or correlations are
significant, and, more important, when they are not.

PH: So why did you choose to create Zenobase?

EJ: I saw a need for a Twitter-like service, but for structured data. If
instead of just tweeting about how many miles you ran, a tweet had
structured data like a distance, location, duration etc, that would
open up a lot of possibilities… There were services for specific
activities, but you’d end up with data in different places, and
limited to whatever kind of data each service supported.

PH: With so many people using the service, do you plan on gathering the aggregate data to identify trends?

EJ: I don’t really know for sure what the data in Zenobase represents. For
example, a weight measurement could be someone’s body weight, but it
could also be the weight lifted at the gym, or the weight of a box of
donuts eaten right after the gym. One consequence of this is that the
data has no value for marketing or ad targeting; some users might
consider that a plus.

PH: What’s coming next with Zenobase?

EJ: Most users only scratch the surface of what can be done with Zenobase,
so improving the user experience and creating tutorials is high on the
to-do list. And of course there are always more data sources to

PH: And what do you personally track on a daily basis?

EJ: Mostly things that don’t require much effort to track; how much I
walk, sleep, my body weight, resting heart rate, and some additional
context like the places I go, or the temperature at home.

I don’t have specific goals, but like having some data to base my
decisions on, be it where to have lunch, or how low to set the
thermostat at night.

PH: Lastly, what do you see as the future of self quantification?

EJ: Most self quantification today is done not for insight, but for fun,
or as a motivational help. I hope that the range of data we can
collect and the tools improve to the point where self quantification
is considered to be essential for diagnosing problems as well, both in
and out of a medical setting.

Ultimately, it might even answer the question of life, the universe,
and everything.

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